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Lack of Specificity

Lack of Specificity -- do not describe the investigative

aspects of your study in overly-broad generalities. Avoid
using vague qualifiers, such as, extremely, very, entirely,
completely, etc. It's important that you design a study that
describes the process of investigation in clear and concise
terms. Otherwise, the reader cannot be certain what you
intend to do.
Poorly Defined Research Problem
• the starting point of most new research in the social sciences
is to formulate a problem statement and begin the process of
developing questions that address the problem. Your paper
should outline and explicitly delimit the problem and state
what you intend to investigate since it will determine what
research design you will use [identifying the research problem
always precedes choice of design.
Lack of Theoretical Framework
• the theoretical framework represents the conceptual
foundation of your study. Therefore, your research
design should include an explicit set of logically
derived hypotheses, basic postulates, or assumptions
that can be tested in relation to the research
problem. More information about developing a
theoretical framework can be found here.
• the research design must include a clear
answer to the "So What?" question. Be sure you
clearly articulate why your study is important
and how it contributes to the larger body of
literature about the topic being investigated.
Relationship between Past Research
and Your Study
• do not simply offer a summary description of prior
research. Your literature review should include an
explicit statement linking the results of prior research
to the research you are about to undertake. This can
be done, for example, by identifying basic
weaknesses in previous studies and how your study
helps to fill this gap in knowledge.
Contribution to the Field
In placing your study within the context of
prior research, don't just note that a gap
exists; be clear in describing how your study
contributes to, or possibly challenges, existing
assumptions or findings.
• this refers to designing a narrowly applied scope,
geographical area, sampling, or method of analysis
that restricts your ability to create meaningful
outcomes and, by extension, obtaining results that
are relevant and possibly transferable to
understanding phenomena in other settings
Objectives, Hypotheses, or
• your research design should include one or more questions or
hypotheses that you are attempting to answer about the
research problem underpinning your study. They should be
clearly articulated and closely tied to the overall aims of your
paper. Although there is no rule regarding the number of
questions or hypotheses associated with a research problem,
most studies in the social sciences address between one and
five key questions.
Poor Methodological Approach

• the design must include a well-developed and

transparent plan for how you intend to collect or
generate data and how it will be analyzed. Ensure
that the method used to gather information for
analysis is aligned with the topic of inquiry and the
underlying research questions to be addressed.
Proximity Sampling
• this refers to using a sample which is based not upon
the purposes of your study, but rather, is based upon
the proximity of a particular group of subjects. The
units of analysis, whether they be persons, places,
events, or things, must not be based solely on ease of
access and convenience
Techniques or Instruments
• be clear in describing the techniques [e.g., semi-
structured interviews] or instruments [e.g.,
questionnaire] used to gather data. Your research
design should note how the technique or instrument
will provide reasonably reliable data to answer the
questions associated with the research problem.